For more “Best of Barnstorming” photos:
Seasons on the Farm:
…all I know is that we must cultivate our garden…
~Voltaire from Candide
This year, once again, we’re late getting our garden in — there have been too many other things happening in our work and home life to even think about getting the garden in. Starting a garden in June is not something I recommend to anyone. It requires bushwhacking to make a suitable bed for the seeds.
Thankfully, my now newly retired husband — normally part-time farmer now full-time — was up to the job.
The weeds, never discouraged by cool rainy weather, have instead been emphatically encouraged. They grow with exuberance, happily seeding themselves, thank you very much. The garden plot had become a veritable forest to contend with before the soil could be prepared for seeding.
My husband set to work on the jungle on hands and knees, digging into the turf of weeds, loosening their grip, pulling them out, shaking off the clinging clumps of dirt from their roots and turning over fresh soil to dry in the sun under a fresh dressing of warm composted manure. Along with creating multiple trenches for our vegetable seeds and starts, we planted prayers that there was still enough time left in the growing season to actually bear a harvest.
I admit there are plenty of times my life feels like our neglected garden plot. If not kept tended, if not exposed to enough warmth and light, if not fertilized with the steaming loam from a well-composted manure pile, if not kept clear of the unwanted weeds that take hold and grow no matter what the weather conditions, there can be no harvest of value whatsoever. I will accomplish nothing other than sustaining self-sowing weeds for the next generation to battle.
I leave behind a life unrecognizable as a source of nurture as it is overrun by weed creep.
Each year we’re determined to do better but we know we’re running out of time and gardening seasons. It isn’t just the resultant sore back and dirty fingernails that serve as reminders of the hard work of tending one’s life like one’s soil. It is that burst of sweetness that comes from eating the first fresh peas, the sharp tang of a radish straight from the ground, the bowl of greens unsullied by chemicals, the onions, potatoes and squash stored away in the root cellar for winter consumption.
Most of all, it is the satisfaction of knowing we accomplished something wonderful with our own hands — guided gently by the ultimate Gardener who won’t allow a few weeds to overrun us.
With what deep thirst
we quicken our desires
to that rank odor of a passing springtime!
Must you taste everything? Must you know everything?
Must you have a part in everything?
~William Carlos Williams from “Smell”
I realize I am not so different than my dogs rolling happily in the stinkiest thing they can find – I want to taste and know and be part of everything whether it is good or not:
I tend to douse myself with whatever I wish to carry with me through the rest of my days, even if smelling like something just died repels others.
Maybe, like my dogs, it is to conceal who I really am.
Maybe, like my dogs, I would rather fit in with the barnyard than a palace.
Or maybe, just like my dogs, I simply like getting down and dirty and too proud of it.
Human nature being what it is — the desire to blend in with the world’s sordid and sin-ridden surroundings — this is why I, like my dogs, am in constant need of a good bathing.
It would be best to smell like that rank odor of too-swiftly passing springtimes – we all need a renewal and reminder of our rebirth rather than immersion in the stench of death.
May I, like my dogs,
recognize I must be cleansed –
again and again and again.
I wonder what it would be like to live in a world where it was always June.
~L. M. Montgomery from Anne of the Island
Each month is special in its own way: I tend to favor April and October for how the light plays on the landscape during transitional times — a residual of what has been with a hint of what lies ahead.
Then there is June. Dear, gentle, full blown and overwhelming June. Nothing is dried up, there is such a rich feeling of ascension into lushness of summer combined with the immense relief of tight schedules loosening.
And the light, and the birdsong and the dew and the greens — such vivid verdant greens.
As lovely as June is, 30 days is more than plenty or I would become completely saturated. Then I can be released from my sated stupor to wistfully hunger for June for 335 more.
and the rest
is what came after.
you’re the flavor
of my best,
for a tongue tip,
You were nothing
until I picked
do we willingly
would I be if
I’d kept walking?
~Kathleen Flenniken “Thimbleberry” (2012 – 2014 Washington State poet laureate)
I’m glad I stopped
where I was going
what I was doing
to admire and taste
a little thimbleberry ~
this, a moment
never to come again
yet so sad
This is the kind of morning that begs to be admired from dawn’s first moment: everything emerges from the fog so sharp and vivid bathed in golden light.
It takes away my breath at the same time as it delivers it deep within me.